THE Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) is in high spirit as far as its campaign in the Southeast Asian Games is concerned despite being embroiled in another issue with its prodigal daughter.
Patafa president Philip Ella Juico said no amount of distractions could keep the Filipino track bets out of focus in their training for the August 19-31 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Juico is confident about the country’s chances, convinced that his charges have what it takes to surpass the five gold medals another national team won in track and field during the Singapore edition of the meet two years ago.
He said reigning SEA Games sprint king Eric Cray, pole vaulter Ernest Obiena, triple jumper Mark Harry Diones, and long jumper Janry Ubas, who recently leapt 7.88 meters during the Patafa trials, can deliver gold medals.
Juico’s display of positive mindset in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel yesterday came a day after the Patafa dropped Olympian marathoner Mary Joy Tabal from the national team due to what officials described as her
lack of discipline and respect for federation rules and regulations.
Tabal, who represented the country in marathon in last year’s Rio Olympics, won a silver medal in Singapore two years. The 27-year-old pride of Cebu remains as the country’s best woman marathoner.
“I just want to stress two points here. One, we represent the Patafa community, the athletes and coaches, and what we’re doing is to preserve and protect the community and the value that it stands for,” Juico said in the public sports program presented by San Miguel
Corp., Golden Phoenix Hotel, Accel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. where he was joined by secretary-general Renato Unso, national coach Jojo Posadas, and marketing manager Edward Kho.
“And second is technical excellence and adherence to core life,” he added. “We try to be fair to all our athletes. Walang special treatment dito, walang VIP treatment dito.”
Reading between the lines, there seems to be a slim chance of Tabal being reinstated in the national team, especially with the marathoner having sent feelers that she’s willing to iron things out with Patafa officials.
“We will cross the bridge when we get there,” said Juico.
But the Patafa chief said it wouldn’t be easy, especially with the federation needing to deal with majority of the national team members.
“We have a community of athletes here, and we value their feelings and beliefs on issues like this,” Juico said. “So we’ll think of the welfare of athletes and coaches who have been very professional about what we’re doing.” (Malaya)